Simon Kolawole: Boko Haram And Those Conspiracy Theories

Do you like conspiracy theories? I have one or two for you. According to the word going round following an upsurge in the activities of Boko Haram in the last few weeks, President Goodluck Jonathan is the brain behind the insurgency. It is said that he has instructed Boko Haram to step up the attacks, take more towns and villages in the North-east, move a little bit into the North-central and the North-west, and set the North on fire. He has asked them, it is said, to do as much damage as they can do, cause as much confusion as possible and shed as much blood as is within reach.
Why? 2015. It is all about 2015. There are, indeed, different shades of this theory. One is that since he is unlikely to win in the North-east, it is better for Boko Haram to control the geo-political zone so that there will be no voting there, thereby depriving the opposition of millions of votes so that he can, easily, be returned to office. In fact, when he declared a state of emergency in three North-eastern states in 2013, the opposition said it was part of his re-election plan. They vehemently opposed it.
A slightly modified side of this theory, however, is that Jonathan does not want elections to hold at all. So by instructing Boko Haram to renew their assaults, it is alleged, he has an excuse to invoke emergency powers, plead general insecurity in the country, move the polls indefinitely and retain the presidency until he feels good enough to call elections. This aspect of the theory is based on the belief that Jonathan does not think he can win the presidential election and therefore wants to hold on to power, through the back door, just to buy time.
There is a second conspiracy theory, a bit older than the one we just discussed. It was prevalent a few weeks ago ─ especially after the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh, announced a ceasefire on behalf of Boko Haram and declared that the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls were just a few days away from being released. A theory popped up immediately: Jonathan knew the solution to Boko Haram all along but was just waiting for the elections to come close before acting. It was all a game, the theorists proffered.
In fact, someone said with Jonathan about to pick the nomination form of his party, he timed the ceasefire agreement and the release of the girls so well for his campaign. This theory suggests that Jonathan may not be the one behind Boko Haram, unlike the first one. It proposes instead that Jonathan was deliberately allowing the bloodshed because it was politically beneficial to him. By ending the war and retrieving the girls, he would have wormed his way into the hearts of Nigerian voters, they say. Good theory, just that there was no ceasefire after all.
There is a third theory that says Jonathan is aiding the insurgency because he wants Nigeria to break up, so that the Niger Delta can walk away with their oil. It is not an entirely new theory ─ it’s been around for a while. But the upsurge in the insurgency has revived it, with many of the theorists saying Jonathan would rather there is no Nigeria than be defeated in 2015. Someone even commented on a website that it is the Igbo, in conjunction with the South-south, that are behind the war, that they want to revive what they couldn’t get during the civil war ─ the Republic of Biafra.
The Jonathan camp has its own theory too. To them, it is his political opponents who are fuelling the insurgency. Simple. After all, they say, didn’t some people promise to make Nigeria ungovernable if power did not return to the North in 2011 after the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua? And didn’t a presidential aspirant say those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable? Is it a co-incidence, they ask, that Boko Haram has upped its game since Jonathan came to power in 2011? Is it a co-incidence, they further ask, that the terrorists have killed more people in 2014 alone, more than all previous years combined, as 2015 elections draw close?
There are other theories, like the ‘American Conspiracy’ school that says the US is working behind the scene to crack up the country, having predicted that Nigeria would break up in 2015 (this false report has assumed the garb of truth, having been repeated about a million times per second). They ask: Haven’t they refused to come to our aid, despite committing men, equipment and other resources to the war against ISIS and Al-Qaeda in the Middle East? Haven’t they refused to sell arms to us, hiding under human rights abuses by the military? It must be America, they say.
I have my own theory, dear readers. And my theory is that I don’t believe any of these theories. Not one of them. To the best of my knowledge, Boko Haram is a group of misguided, deranged religious extremists (the Yoruba word for extremists is “agbawerem’esin”, literally “someone who has added madness to religion”) who ─ having started on a small-scale level with the aid of politicians ─ managed to grow up, got out of hand, and became affiliated to Al-Qaeda. In my view, Boko Haram is every inch like Al Qaeda and ISIS. Check out the flag, the rhetoric and the mode of operation.
Also, look at the list of Al-Qaeda’s allies and affiliates: Al-Shabbab in Somalia, Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Algeria, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines, Islamic Movement in Uzbekistan, East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), Jundallah in Pakistan and Jaish-e-Mohammed in Kashmir. I will only believe Jonathan is behind Boko Haram the day I believe he is also behind Al-Shabbab and AQIM and Co. I will only believe Northern politicians who want power in 2015 are behind Boko Haram the day I believe they are also the ones funding Al-Shabbab and AQIM and Co. Does Abubakar Shekau look like someone who will overrun Aso Rock and then hand over power to one of the Northern politicians/sponsors?
But you know what, fellow Nigerians? While we are busy propounding theories and pointing fingers back and forth, these Boko Haram murderers are gaining more ground and rendering our people hopeless and homeless every day. The territorial integrity of Nigeria is being eroded by the hour. Full-blooded Nigerians, like you and I, have become refugees in their own fatherland. They are fleeing from both the Boko Haram militants, who kill them, and the Nigerian soldiers, who allow them to die.
I have been asking questions and no one is answering me. Is it that Boko Haram has more money, more arms, more ammunition and more men than Nigeria? Do they have better strategists, better intelligence and superior war plan? Since they started expanding their territory, we’ve not heard a word from official quarters! All we hear is that we will soon buy more bullets to fight the insurgents. Pray, have we officially surrendered to Boko Haram?

National leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has called for the resignation of President Jonathan for failing to curb the insurgency in the North-east. APC, countering a presidential aide’s claim that no president resigns during a war, has cited the example of Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who resigned eight months into World War II following a failure of all parties to support him. Nice one. But if Jonathan resigns, Vice-President Namadi Sambo will automatically assume office as the new president. Is that the ultimate solution to Boko Haram that APC wants? Puzzling.
All the talk about free and fair polls in Nigeria is usually centred on the general election. NGOs, rights activists and public affairs commentators are all preparing for the 2015 elections with their eyes focused on how credible they would be. Somehow, they hardly pay attention to party congresses ─ which is where rigging starts from. Since delegates emerge through the congresses and then vote in the primaries, this is where the mindless manipulation starts. Elections are hardly conducted. Names are just compiled. This inevitably determines who is going to pick a party’s ticket. Nigerian parties blatantly lack internal democracy. Shame.
When I heard the news that Dangote had dropped the price of cement from N1800 to N1000, it sounded incredible. I instantly remembered when Globacom dropped the price of SIM cards to N1. I had been waiting for the drop in cement prices since Nigeria attained local sufficiency in production. That is supposed to be a natural benefit. However, probably because of the gestation period after heavy investments, it has taken a long time. Whatever it is, this is good news. I hope in another five years when we hopefully achieve self-sufficiency in rice, a bag will go for N750. Amen.
I am glad that Burkina Faso is getting nearer a solution to its political crisis before the interim military leaders get too comfortable on the sofa. The fall of Blaise Compaore should have automatically conferred power on the senate president in line with the Burkinabe constitution, but the issue appeared more complicated than that. But that should not give the military the opportunity to resort to the typical African style in which a military leader will contest election next year and continue from where Compaore stopped. With a civilian-led transition, that all-too-familiar scenario should not be re-enacted. Thankfully.


Article written By Simon Kolawole, and Culled from Thisday Newspaper.. Email: [email protected]


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